Game of the day: Royals at Cardinals

Kansas City Royals at St. Louis Cardinals (-114, 7)

After raising significant questions by dropping nine of 11, the Kansas City Royals provided a swift answer with four straight wins to reclaim first place in the American League Central. The Royals look to continue their good fortune when they play the first of three games this weekend in the I-70 Series against the host St. Louis Cardinals on Friday.

“You’re going to have slumps throughout the season. It’s how you respond to it,” Alex Gordon said after belting a three-run homer in Wednesday’s 7-2 triumph over Minnesota. The win allowed Kansas City to cap a series sweep and move two full games ahead of the second-place Twins. The 31-year-old Gordon has struggled mightily in June (4-for-25), but helped the Royals take two of three from their Show Me State rival last month by launching a two-run shot in a 3-2 victory over St. Louis on May 23. The major league-best Cardinals rebounded from that rain-shortened, six-inning setback to win 10 of 12 before losing three of their last five contests – including two of three versus Colorado to end a seven-game road trip.

TV: 8:15 p.m. ET, FSN Kansas City, FSN Midwest (St. Louis)

LINE HISTORY: Books opened the Cardinals at -114 and -125. The total opened at 7.

INJURY REPORT: Royals – N/A  Cardinals – LF Matt Holliday (DL-Quad), 1B Matt Adams (DL-Quad)

WHAT CAPPERS SAY: “A potential in-state World Series preview between two of the best teams in the league from both a straight-up win perspective and a moneyline perspective.  Combined these two teams are 73-44 this season and more than +25 net units of profit on the betting moneyline.  Both teams have solid pitching and hitting, but the main thing in common are great bullpens as the Royals have a 1.77 ERA, while the Cardinals have a 2.03 ERA this season, and the two teams have combined to convert 43 of their 53 save opportunities.” – Covers Expert Steve Merril

HOT FAN WAR:

PITCHING MATCHUP: Royals RH Yordano Ventura (3-5, 4.62 ERA) vs. Cardinals LH Jaime Garcia (1-3, 2.67)

Ventura was blitzed for four runs on six hits in three innings to suffer the loss in a 4-2 setback to Texas on Saturday. The 24-year-old Dominican also yielded four runs on five hits in seven frames against St. Louis en route to a 6-1 loss on May 24. Ventura pitched significantly better in his first meeting with the Cardinals, picking up the win after permitting just two runs in six innings.

Garcia has deserved a better fate in all three of his losses this season, yielding a total of five runs on 14 hits in 21 innings. The 28-year-old’s latest heartbreak came against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Saturday, as he allowed just two runs on six hits in seven frames. Garcia is 0-1 with an 8.31 ERA in his career versus Kansas City, with Gordon a blistering 4-for-9 against him with a homer and five RBIs.

TWEET BEAT:

TRENDS:

*Royals are 4-0 in their last 4 overall.
*Cardinals are 41-12 in their last 53 home games.
*Under is 4-0-1 in Venturas last 5 starts overall.
*Under is 12-3-1 in Cardinals last 16 vs. a team with a winning record.

COVERS CONSENSUS: 60.5 percent of the Covers public are backing the Cardinals

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